Defining Free Software Business - excurse to CSR

MJ Ray mjr at
Fri Jun 23 11:54:26 UTC 2006

"Shane M. Coughlan" <shane at>
> [...]  In other words, CSR is a great selling
> point to large enterprises but it might make up a much smaller part of
> the decision-making process in a SME.

It might also backfire horribly.  I think casting GBN as a
feel-good CSR initiative would contaminate it for a whole range
of potential collaborators and supporters:
  "Right now a more accurate meaning of 'CSR' would be 'corporate
  suppression of regulation'. Multinationals are islands of
  central planning in a sea of failed markets. CSR is used as
  a PR weapon to help corporations maintain market power, when
  it is precisely that power that is the problem. [...] We need
  road signs and traffic lights for corporate juggernauts, not
  a donkey derby of promises, good wishes and crossed fingers."
  -- Andrew Simms, policy director, New Economics Foundation,
  in The Observer 2006-06-18

For a more direct example: cooperatives have concern for
community as part of the foundation and it's not just a public
relations exercise for members.  I think we should help make
this important structural change, as in other bad markets of old:
  "In 1876 a travelling salesman/auctioneer [...] decided to
  assist the widow of a railwayman by donating five per cent
  of his takings [...] The local traders decided that with
  the sale of 1400lbs of tea, he needed to be stopped from
  trading [...] The court decided to let him off with two hours
  detention until the end of the sitting but he decided to leave
  the traders a legacy and from his knowledge of co-operative
  societies urged his supporters to hold a meeting in his tent
  and form a Society." -- Anglia Society : A Potted History

but it sometimes feels like FSF* prefers to court Big Software
and their big lawyers and ignore the possibility of directly
influencing markets.  Please don't let GBN fail in a similar
way by bending to approve those who sell free software short.
We need a CSR tie-in and its jargon about as much as we need
to utilise a multitined eating implement on our cranium.

Best wishes,
MJ Ray - personal email, see
Work:  Jabber/SIP ask

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